Facebook criticises Google/Verizon net neutrality deal

Facebook has criticised the Google/Verizon net neutrality deal, saying that it weakens the regulatory authority of the FCC.

Facebook spokesperson, Andrew Noyes, said in a statement that “Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks.”

He added: “Preserving an open Internet that is accessible to innovators — regardless of their size or wealth — will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections.”

Or, in other words, Facebook is afraid of the notion that Google, which could soon be its biggest competitor with its Google Me social network, may have a man on the inside in terms of net neutrality. It wouldn’t be the only one which fears that “net neutrality” might turn out to be “favouring Google”, but it is certainly top of the list of those who believe the internet should be favouring Facebook instead.

The FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps also weighed in to say that a decision is needed “to reassert FCC authority over broadband communications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.”

Facebook is not as neutral as it claims, however. In May of this year it signed deals with several major phone networks to offer its web portal for free to users. While this may at first sound like a generous offering, it is in fact preferential treatment, as users are many more times likely to use a free portal than one that eats their credit or monthly data allowance.

It cannot sign a deal with phone network to receive special favour and then criticise a rival for doing something similar without looking like it may have wished it was the one signing the net neutrality deal.

What makes the whole debacle even more intriguing is that both Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, joined 22 other major technology CEOs last year to voice their favour of the FCC’s net neutrality plans. 

At the time they said they “believe a process that results in common sense baseline rules is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation and global competitiveness.” They also talked about how small businesses should have just as much say as big ones.

This was all before Google decided to wade into the fray with proposals of its own, which may have gone over better had it consulted the consortium of net neutrality allies it had last year. Had all 24 of those CEOs, including the Facebook founder, come together to form a proposal, there may not have been such public backlash.

Perhaps, however, the proposals are better off left to the FCC itself.